01/08/2013 02:32 EST | Updated 01/08/2013 02:33 EST

Fort Macleod Clinic Closes: Alberta Town Loses 1 Of Only 2 Health Facilities


FORT MACLEOD -- Residents of a southern Alberta community say they are concerned over the unexpected closure of one of two health clinics.

The Fort Macleod Family Medical Clinic shut down Friday and employees say it will remain so indefinitely.

The circumstances surrounding the closure are unclear, but Dr. Steven Beekman says there aren't enough doctors in town.

Beekman is now one of only two physicians practising in Fort Macleod.

He expects to see an increase of people in the hospital's emergency department as a result of the clinic closing.

Fort Macleod is still reeling after the province scrapped the Alberta Police College, which was to be built in the historical town, which started off as NWMP fort in 1884.

The college was to provide a badly needed economic boost to the 3,000-person community, located just north of the U.S. border.


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Alberta Health Services says it is working to recruit more doctors, but for now the community will need to rely on outside help.

``Currently there are not adequate numbers of family physicians for us to recruit, so we are actively recruiting a few from small rural communities as well as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat,'' said AHS spokesman Vanessa Maclean.

``It was not of the desire of the physicians that worked there to close (the clinic),'' Beekman said. ``They were forced to do so by events that were beyond their control.''

Consequences will be many, he suggested.

``A lot of people have needs that can only be met by a doctor that ... sees them on a regular basis. Many have chronic illnesses. Many have prescriptions that need regular refilling, so that is going to increase our workload significantly if we can't find doctors.''